Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Elizabeth Monroe and Madame Lafayette

Elizabeth Monroe helped to save Madame Lafayette from probable execution during the French Revolution. James Monroe wanted to help the Lafayettes (after all, Lafayette had helped the young US), but couldn’t do it himself because of his position, so sent his wife instead. James sent Elizabeth, in the best carriage he could find, to Le Plessis prison to visit the imprisoned Made Lafayette. The grand carriage drew notice and everyone soon knew the wife the American minister was visiting Madame Lafayette. When summoned, Madame Lafayette thought she was to die (much of her family had already been executed), but instead was overjoyed to find Mrs. Monroe. Late, James also visited her and eventually helped to secure her release. James arranged for passports to get Madame Lafayette and her daughter out of France to Austria where they could join her husband and son. The Lafayettes never forgot the Monroes’ efforts on their behalf and when they visited the US, they gave the Monroes gifts, including two marble mantelpieces that are still in their house at Oak Hill.

Source: “Elizabeth Kortright Monroe” by James Wootton (former curator of Ash Lawn)

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